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My Dad’s suicide.


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I’m Allen.  My Dad committed suicide early yesterday morning.  He was pained with the loss of my Mom, our twin girls, our 12 year old son, and our 1year old daughter.  I don’t know if anger is supposed to be the first feeling but I’m angry.  Katie and I have had to cope with our losses too.  I don’t know.  I just don’t know.  Everyone here has been super supportive.  

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My dear Allen, when death happens this way I think it's completely understandable that the first feeling you have is anger. It's that "how could he do this to us?" feeling, along with all the other unanswered questions. As you say, your dad was not alone in his grief: both you and your wife have had to cope with your losses too ~ so I hope you will give yourselves permission to feel whatever you are feeling. Being angry with your dad doesn't mean that you've stopped loving him. Feelings are neither right or wrong; they just are. And suicide is one of the most difficult, most complex deaths to understand. I hope and pray that you will avail yourselves of all the information and support you can find to help you through this. We are here for you and we can point you to those resources, but it will be up to you to find them and use them. As mentioned in another post, see Grief Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss and Explaining Suicide to a Child 

 

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Absolutely it's more than okay to feel anger!  How could you not under the circumstance!  I like that Marty pointed out that being angry with your dad doesn't mean you don't love him.  You've been the most loving and caring son you could be.  I know one thing, if he could look at what you are going through right now, the pain he's caused you, he would have deep regret and remorse.  But he can't change anything, it was a permanent action.  And that he commit suicide does not mean he didn't care about you and Katie and Caleb and Ryan, although it may FEEL like that, he was not thinking about anything but the pain he was in.  I know, you and Katie and Caleb have had to deal with that pain too, you suffered the same losses.  Some people are more resilient than others, I don't know why, and you and Katie have each other to go through life together, Butch undoubtedly could have handled things better had he had his Mary beside him.  Loss of spouse affects everything, every aspect of everyday life, I know, I've been living it 12 1/2 years now.  I wish he could have adjusted, but he couldn't even think of making headway because he was constantly getting hit with yet something else.  My heart breaks for all of you, including him.  I cared about Butch, and it's hard for me to believe he won't be emailing anymore.  :(  I can't begin to imagine the loss you are feeling, he's been there all your life.  I've lost my parents, but suicide...that's something else to deal with.  I keep you and Katie and Caleb in my prayers.  Ryan won't remember anything, thankfully he's spared.  

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Thank you for the resources Marty.  I’ve started reading them.  The one about how to tell a child involves telling a nine year old boy as well.  We told Caleb.  We were very honest with him.  

Kay,  I see how losing a spouse effects the entire family unit.  

Allen. 

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In reading that article, funny they should mention the wee hours...I've been up since 3 am.  And funny they should mention strength, I've been studying about strength in the Bible recently.  (My Facebook scripture of the day shows posts on strength the last two days).  It IS in our weakness that His strength can be made manifest.  My pastor has a saying at our church, "It's okay not to be okay", in other words, we accept each other as we are.  We don't have to put on a "I can do it all" mask, we can be vulnerable, just as we are.

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I can’t believe this has happened.  I can’t believe I found my dad like I did.  I will never forget that image.  It is horrifying.  One has no idea unless they’ve experienced it.  I’m his son. He could have come to me.  I would have helped him.  Now it’s all gone.  And there are no words. Nothing is left.  😢

Allen

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I know, Allen.  I've been thinking about this a lot this week.  We cry out, we lament, why!!!  But no response comes back to us.  If there were regrets in heaven, I'm sure he'd be regretting right now, but I think all that is gone for them, they know only peace, it is us left to deal with our emotions and the missing them.  I wish peace and comfort for your family.

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My dear Allen, you are absolutely right that you cannot escape what you have witnessed, but that does not mean that you will never come to terms with it or that nothing can be done to help you.

I know you’ve indicated that you and Katy have been seeing a counselor, and I hope with all my heart that you are receiving the support you need, not only as a couple mourning the deaths of your children, but also as individuals coping with the tragic and traumatic suicide of your father. As I’ve stated elsewhere, a suicide death is one of the most challenging for survivors because of the troubling questions raised: not only about your dad’s state of mind and your own inability to prevent his death, but also about the forces in a world that would permit so much unspeakable pain and sorrow to happen to your family. The level of grief you and Katy are experiencing seems beyond our understanding, and surely too much for you to bear. While we all can certainly understand your dad’s desperate need to escape his pain, and at that moment death may have seemed to him the only way to end it, the result is that his decision has left all of you (and all of us as well) with overwhelming pain of your own. For that, I am so sorry.

I don’t know if you’ve considered participating in an in-person support group for survivors of suicide, but I sincerely hope that you will do so. Such a group can help you and your family members come to terms with this horrific loss.

In addition, as you have clearly noted, you’re finding it difficult if not impossible to erase the horrible images of having found your dad the way you did. Such an experience calls for more than traditional counseling or grief therapy, Allen. As you’ve discovered already, seeing your dad’s body at the scene of his suicide can have enormous staying power, as those terrifying images linger and intrude into your daytime thoughts, and may be causing nightmares as you sleep. Expert clinicians have developed a number of specialized procedures for working with such troubling imagery in grief therapy, including EMDR (see In Grief: Using Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprossessing (EMDR)

Such “prolonged exposure” therapy involves specific, trauma-focused processing of your horrific experience. That is, with therapeutic support from and careful management by a therapist who specializes in trauma treatment, you would be led to recall and confront the hardest details of your dad’s suicide and what you saw, in a sort of slow-motion review of the imagery and feelings associated with it. I hope you will discuss this kind of specific, trauma-focused therapy with the counselor you are seeing now, and if he or she does not offer it, enlist his or her help in finding it.

Allen, I am reminded of a statement by Dr. Robert Neimeyer, one of the foremost experts in the field of grief and loss. He writes, “When the losses keep going and going, with no end in sight, survivors often experience a kind of ‘chronic sorrow’ that defies the usual expectations for grief ‘recovery’ (if indeed one can ever truly use that word when losses are profound).  Different from both major depression and angry resignation, chronic sorrow can entail a sense of disillusionment in life, a recognition of our collective vulnerability, and an impatience with the petty preoccupations of many in the social world.  Integrated in an adaptive way, it can in time become a source of depth and wisdom–though the price paid for this, with no prospect of a refund, continues to feel disproportionate.”

We all wish only the best for you and your family, Allen, and our hearts are hurting with you and for you. I keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and I hope you know how very much you are loved. 

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It's funny you mention EMDR, Marty, because I emailed them a couple of links about it yesterday.  I'd enlist the help of someone trained in it to guide me, it could be that their current therapist knows about it, I hope so.

 

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